Tax returns of Maltese ministers and MPs: politics the preserve of the professional class

We uploaded tax returns for the 2013 and 2014 years of assessment, and a few tax returns from 2008 onwards as revealed to us on a request to the Speaker of the House

Some MPs come from successful professional businesses, making politics their part-time job...
Some MPs come from successful professional businesses, making politics their part-time job...

Under the Income Tax Management Act, the editor of a newspaper can request tax returns of Maltese MPs. And the result of this request is, in part, laid bare here.

We uploaded everything MaltaToday was given: our request was to have every single tax return from 2008; but we got nearly every single MP for 2013 and 2014 (meaning they filed their tax forms in 2014 and 2015, respectively).

We’re including a table of the ‘richest’ earners below the Google sheet that lists every MP alphabetically: MPs names are linked to the tax return in question for 2014 and 2013, or you can search these tax returns in our documentcloud.

There is a small commentary below.

If you have any questions or comments on these tax returns, you can send them confidentially to [email protected]

SEARCH using document cloud

Does it pay to be a Maltese member of parliament?

You are required to be in the House of Representatives every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6pm onwards and that should qualify you for the basic honorarium of  some €21,145 (50% of Scale 1 government salaries). But it usually means coming straight from an eight-to-five job or business, and then there are parliamentary group meetings at party HQ, special party events, Sunday sermons down at the party clubs, morning coffees and fund-raisers, not to mention constituency time and a regular stream of wedding invitations (most probably all requiring a €70 cash gift) and funeral attendances.

The salary gets better if you are a chairman of a parliamentary committee (75% of Scale 1),  but if you are a minister on some €51,000-odd a year, you cannot attend to your private profession, except for raking passive earnings from your firm’s profits.

People like Franco Mercieca, the ophthalmologist who wanted to retain his surgery while serving as junior minister had to finally relinquish his government post: it pays more to stay free of governmental responsibility.

The ‘part-time’ allure of Malta’s House of Representatives indeed serves as extra pocket money for some MPs. Manuel Mallia earned €120,000 in rental income alone in 2013, apart from over €67,000 in professional fees (and his ministerial salary); in 2014, his last full year as home affairs minister, saw him declaring €609,000 in professional fees (less €560,000 in expenses).

Mario de Marco, a former PN minister, had  declared €116,000 in professional fees in 2013 and a staggering €336,000 in 2014 (less €149,000 in expenses). But in 2011 and 2010, apart from his ministerial salary, he also declared an additional €95,000 income each year.   And in 2009 and 2008, his professional fees declared were of €134,000 and €314,000 respectively.

Other former ministers have found a new lease of life returning to the private sector, even though, as in the case of Tonio Fenech, this raises doubts over the lack of revolving doors rules for ministers: after his finance minister job, he doubled his income with numerous directorships he accepted almost straight away, declaring a total income of €115,641 in 2013 and over €160,000 in 2014 with directorships in more than 11 different companies he represents.

The Maltese parliament however provides transitional allowances for former ministers after the lapse of 12 months from the termination of their executive position, and after deducting any income from their jobs. But Malta has no fixed ‘revolving doors’ policies to limit the cases where lawmakers switch jobs and join the private sector, armed with the influence they gained as Cabinet members.

But it just goes to show: if you are in a successful law practice, medical profession, or have a small business empire, the political class can offer you an ‘easy’ €21,000 annual income for your three-day sojourn in the House of Representatives. Whether or not your political duty will come before your business interests, or vice-versa, will be something that voters wil have to watch out for.

In this data, we have marked tax rebates and reductions in red, while ministerial salaries are in blue. Total taxable income takes into consideration spouses’ declared income, net of their own expenses if claimed. We listed a maximum of three different employment incomes apart from the MPs’ honorarium, and added any additional incomes, if any, to the main income.
Not all MPs’ tax returns were provided to us by the Speaker of the House, for reasons unknown. In the case of Anton Refalo, Mario de Marco, and Beppe Fenech Adami we were given the 2008-2014 tax returns as originally requested for all MPs.

Some MPs’ tax returns not provided
The Speaker of the House is not featuring in this table, but Anglu Farrugia provided his tax returns for 2013 and 2014: in the last tax assessment he declared his Speaker’s salary of €63,027, a pension of €7,071, his wife’s pension of €1,439, and €619 in rental income.
Marlene Farrugia’s tax return for 2014 was not provided, but in 2013 the Partit Demokratiku leader declared €263,540 in professional earnings as a dentist, subtracting €173,348 in expenses; she also declared €115,977 in gross profits from her property business, as well as her €20,944 honorarium during 2013. In total, her net taxable income was €227,113.

Farrugia’s partner Godfrey Farrugia declared €84,733 while economy minister Chris Cardona’s taxable earnings in 2013 were €42,733.
We did not receive Justyne Caruana’s tax return for 2013, and we were only given Charles Mangion’s tax return for 2013: he declared professional earnings as a notary of €140,366 and expenses of €64,525, and other gross business profits of €115,977, as well as a €430 MP’s honorarium, €14,786 for his Enemalta chairmanship, and €3,833 from Equiom Malta Ltd, and €3,851 in pension earnings. Net taxable income: €211,268.

Silvio Schembri’s tax return for 2013 declared €46,344 as his MP’s honorarium (it includes his committee chairmanship), and €23,532 from the Xlokk Action Group: total, €69,876.

Labour backbencher Joseph Farrugia earned €34,074 in 2013.

In 2013, former MP Joe Cassar declared €30,140 in professional earnings, subtracting €17,880 in expenses, while his spouse declared net earnings of €8,206; Cassar also earned €20,605 for his MP’s honorarium and €6,338 from his University post and €56,935 from his Mount Carmel job as a psychiatrist. Joint taxable income was €104,344.

Lawrence Gonzi, who left the House in 2013, declared a total salary of €95,313.

We did not get Carm Mifsud Bonnici’s tax return for 2014 but in 2013 he declared €30,000 in professional earnings, €16,872 from the House of Representatives, €3,984 from his University post, while his wife declared €37,107 from her University job: total joint taxable income of €87,963.